Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Game Poster Image
Violent seafaring sequel is complex but rewarding adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

While there are some general themes of good vs. evil and helping those in need, there are also many more self-serving motives. Most of game's plot relies on players' in-game choices, allowing for more flexible messages of positivity or negativity and morality.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players define their characters based on choices made through adventure. While they're always the "hero" of their story, the type of hero can vary dramatically. Other characters, such as party members or non-player characters, run the spectrum from wholesome to roguish to sinister.

Ease of Play

Not exactly a beginner's role-playing experience. There's a deep system of character/party management and customization that requires lots of micromanagement and attention to detail, which can be overwhelming to newcomers. The addition of ship-based gameplay, with its own set of unique features and management requirements, adds an extra level of intimidation to the game's complexity and difficulty.

Violence

Characters use all kinds of medieval weapons and magic spells against each other in combat. Lots of gore, with large splashes of blood and even occasional chunks of bodies torn off in battle. The game's scale slightly reduces the impact of these scenes, as players need to zoom in on the action to get the full effect.

Sex

Many sexually suggestive lines throughout the dialogue, including some suggesting incest. Also scenes of both male and female nudity. But no explicit sexual acts are shown.

Language

Frequent profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism

Direct sequel to original Pillars of Eternity; players can import characters from that game into the sequel. There are plans to continue adventure through paid downloadable content (DLC).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional references to drinking, being drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a role-playing game (RPG) that's available on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems; it's a direct sequel to the popular Pillars of Eternity RPG. Players face a number of unique moral choices throughout the game, shaping not only their character but also how others react to them and how the story unfolds. The game doesn't shy away from mature content: There's lots of combat with swords, arrows, and magical attacks, many of which include blood and gore. There's also a lot of swearing, including "s--t" and "f--k," and plenty of sexual references and a scene with male and female nudity. Expect references to drinking and getting drunk. Deadfire is a complex game that offers a deep RPG experience but might be overwhelming for newcomers.

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What's it about?

PILLARS OF ETERNITY II: DEADFIRE picks up immediately after the events of the first game. The god Eothas, thought by the people of Eora to have been destroyed long ago, has somehow returned to life, taking the form of a massive stone titan. You witness this violent rebirth first hand, barely escaping death as the god wreaks havoc on your stronghold. Now it's up to you and your companions to set sail throughout the Deadfire Archipelago to hunt the rampaging deity. Along the way, you'll uncover a hidden secret that could threaten the existence of both the pantheon of gods and the world of mortals.

Is it any good?

This sea-based role playing game deciphers the mystery of just how to improve on the original without losing sight of why it struck a chord with the audience to begin with. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire handles this tricky balance with both style and substance; it takes the core mechanics that players loved in the first game, adds a seafaring ship and crew to the experience, and tosses all of that into an open world which players can explore pretty much as they see fit. All of this makes for an even richer and deeper role-playing game which, thanks to a continued focus on freedom of choice, crafts a more personal story for the player.

While Deadfire is a unquestionably rewarding to fans of the genre, it's not exactly welcoming to newcomers. There are a lot of nuances involved in the game's actions, with a lot of emphasis on character stats, modifiers, etc. Sorting through classes, subclasses, party members, ship skills and crew, and other details is a complex, detail-oriented task, and the game falls a bit short in helping ease players into it. Veterans of old school pen-and-paper tabletop role-playing games should feel right at home with this sort of core mechanic. But that feature of Deadfire can be a bit overwhelming to anyone thinking they can jump into this game expecting a more casual adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Would the story of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire be just as effective or engaging if it didn't have as much blood or gore?

  • Talk about moral choices in gaming. What are some of the unique opportunities to explore morality in gaming? What can be learned by playing on either end of the moral spectrum?

  • Discuss mature content in media. When do things like profanity, violence, and nudity add to a story, and when are they more gratuitous?

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